Saturday, May 15, 2010

What My Girlfriend Doesn't Know - Sonya Sones

Summary: My name is Robin.

This is a book about me.
It tells the story of what happens when after almost fifteen pathetic years of loserdome,
the girl of my dreams finally falls for me.

That seems like it would be a good thing, right?
Only it turns out to be a lot more complicated than that.

Don't get me wrong--my girlfriend's amazing.
But the way things have been going lately,
I'm starting to believe that the only thing worse
than not getting what you want,

is getting it.
(Image from sonyasones.com - Summary from back of the book.)

My Review: This is a fast read. And not just because of the way the book is organized--almost every page is set up like a new poem, free verse in style. Initially it looked like a book I would bypass: I'm not (for the most part) into sappy love stories or chick-flick type reads with petty romance and betrayal. I decided to get the book for my classroom collection when my students kept asking for it for silent reading. Although this still didn't convince me to crack the cover. It wasn't until I gave my students the option of picking a book, any book they wanted as long as it was paperback, and I'd see if I could finagle a way to buy one for them and get it in their hot little hands before summer break, for their own, to keep forever. A majority of my students wanted the second in the series of The Hunger Games, (Catching Fire) but this came in second. Finally, I opened to page one.

It was such a refreshingly fast read. And it was hilarious. I laughed many times out loud causing my students to think I'd fallen off my rocker. Now, don't get me wrong on the content. It's definitely high school level in content. But the way the pages are separated into poems with titles that flow into the story and the breaks in the lines adding emphasis to the story, it was a fun break from the usual set up. There's something satisfying about flying through a book so fast you surprise yourself with how fast it's finish. This is definitely a book you could read in one sitting.

Robin is a pathetic boy who's never fit in. It's not because he isn't an interesting guy. It's because he made one simple mistake in elementary school that followed him, plagued him, until high school. In fact, he's a very cool kid. This is his story of growing up, breaking barriers he thought would never be torn down, and coming of age.

As is typical for me, I didn't read the back of the book, but this time I didn't check who the author was either. I was 45 pages in before I even thought to look. Surprise: it's written by a woman! She has middle school/high school hormonal-boy down, pat. I honestly thought it was a male author. Her depictions of males were accurate in that it shows how easily they are sexually stimulated at that age, but also that some are truly caring, thoughtful young men fighting against natural instincts.

Themes in this book I'd bring up for discussion with my students are social acceptance, changing your perception of yourself and the world, fidelity, trust, honesty, how to deal with anger, teen angst, self-acceptance, how we treat others, getting outside yourself, developing your talents, and many more.

I'm not sure this book is for every high school kid. It is one I would use for students who struggle with reading, find books boring and difficult to read because of all the words on the page, and students who are more interested in the social aspect of school life than the academic. While I think the academically minded kids could enjoy this and would find the read quick and funny, I think the audience it best suits is lower level, or non-readers. It builds confidence, is humorous, and manages to hit on the issues that many of those kids are facing on a daily basis while surviving the high school grind.

***NOTE: There's a lot of sexual reference. Basically first and second base are covered. Nothing more. If you're uncomfortable with your teen reading that much, steer clear. If you don't mind the realities of what kids are doing in relationships these days (and far more, I assure you), and can find humor in how a hormonal boy views the world, you'll get a kick out of this book.

Rating: 4.5 Stars--I dropped it down a bit for content just because at times it's a bit shallow. But, it's so spot on and hilarious, it almost deserves a 5, although as a YA read only, not adult reading.

Sum it up: Engaging and entertaining to the point of hilarity--a true high school saga.

4 comments:

MindySue said...

So tell me Kari, what exactly is first and second base? I think I need some clarification.

Kari said...

Is this a serious question? I can answer. I'm just trying to decide if you're pulling my leg.

MindySue said...

Oh come on Kari, you know me better than that!

Kari said...

Just checking. If the comment wasn't attached to the blog I wouldn't have second guessed myself. I wasn't sure if you wanted me to clarify for readers. :)

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